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Rocket alert sirens sound in southern Israel in false alarm

Israelis run for cover seconds after an Iron Dome system (background) fired an anti-rocket missile near the city of Ashkelon on August 26, 2014
David Buimovitch (AFP)

Rocket alert sirens sounded in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening in what the military later said was a false alarm.

The initial reports of a possible rocket interception were said by Israeli broadcaster Kann to be the result of military flares causing noise.

The alert came hours after Hamas detained a suspected jihadist leader in Gaza, the latest in a series of arrests of those accused of Islamic State group ideology.

In June, it emerged that Hamas were putting 13 jihadists on trial in a military court for allegedly trying to fire rockets into Israel and for collaborating with Islamic State militants in the Egypt's Sinai peninsula.

The Islamist Hamas movement has run Gaza for a decade but it has been challenged by small hardline factions, some of them inspired by IS, who advocate a stricter, Salafist interpretation of the faith.

Some have carried out sporadic rocket attacks into Israel in defiance of an informal truce agreed by Hamas.

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